Taxpayers, parents and everyone in the Angleton ISD community have a right to know and understand what happened during a junior high school dance last Friday and how administrators handled the misbehavior when it occurred.
There has been a disconnect between what some parents, students and administrators have stated publicly, making the extent of the reported unruliness difficult to assess. The most reasonable way to provide a fair examination is for the school district to allow the security video from the dance to be viewed.
Angleton ISD is in a difficult position of trying to protect its students while getting a handle on a situation everyone agrees was unfortunate and poorly handled. The greatest desire to be transparent is inhibited by those factors, and district officials are rightfully concerned revealing too much could create more problems than it resolves.
A myriad of conflicting guidelines and a litigation-happy society make that hesitation understandable. The extent for protections afforded to students under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which the district cited in declining to release specifics about the events at the dance, is not settled law.
As such, we have asked the school district to allow us access to the security video to allow someone without a stake in the game to objectively relay the events of that afternoon in the Angleton High School gym. We offered to have a reporter view the video at their facilities in lieu of releasing a copy. This would ensure — beyond us giving our word — that no images would be made public.
An additional stipulation offered by The Facts was that we would not identify any students or administrators. Our sole purpose would be to convey the actual actions of the people involved in the incidents to provide clarity.
Our informal request has been denied. As such, we are filing an official open records request for access to the video, which the district already has informed us also will be denied. It then will be up to the Texas Attorney General’s office to determine whether the video falls under the protection of student privacy laws, as the district believes, or should be subject to public information law, as we believe.
This is not about putting the district or anyone in it in a bad light. Angleton ISD’s leadership has said publicly they believe inappropriate behavior at the dance could have been handled better and they are seeking to levy consequences and improve their response. But without specifics on both counts, parents and the community cannot make a reasonable judgment on whether things have been properly handled.